DEC ponders its response in Niger

Francois Le Goff

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) was due to decide this week whether to launch a fundraising appeal in response to the west African food crisis.

The trustees were to decide whether the scale of the crisis requires a general appeal or can be handled through individual charity appeals.

The DEC was still holding discussions with its 13 members as Third Sector went to press.

Cafod said it would vote in favour of an appeal launch if other agencies were campaigning for it, but that it would not lead on the issue because Niger is not a central part of its work. The charity has given £100,000 to its local partners in Burkina Faso and Niger to purchase seeds and food.

Islamic Relief, which joined the DEC this year, said it supported an appeal. It said that a fundraising drive by the umbrella group would help minimise the effects of the food shortage.

Oxfam said it was assessing the situation. It launched a £1m appeal in response to the food crisis last week, and is implementing a voucher-for-work scheme that provides people with goods in exchange for activities such as the removal of animal carcasses. Those too weak to work will receive free vouchers.

The British Red Cross also launched an appeal that was publicised in several national newspapers last week. It aims to raise up to £500,000 to fund emergency assistance work in the region, including the supply and distribution of food and the deployment of mobile feeding centres.

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